Many Mormons do not know about Joe Smith's family involvement in
the Salem witch trials of 1692, when Joe Smith Sr.'s
great-grandfather Samuel Smith and Samuel's father-in-law John
Gould testified against Mary Easty and Sarah Wilds respectively.
The testimony of these relatives of Joe Smith hanged these girls as
witches. A belief in witchcraft was passed through the Smith
generations. Even Orlando Saunders, whom Mormon apologists consider
to be one of the most favorable witnesses to Joe Smith's character,
said in an interview that both Joe Smith Sr. and Jr. believed in
witchcraft (Frederic G. Mather, "The Early Days of Mormonism,"
Lippincott's Magazine 26, Aug. 1880, p. 198).
Mormon General Authority B. H. Roberts admitted that Joe Smith's
ancestors believed in warlocks and witches, but he asserted that
such belief was normal in Smith's day, "Yes, the Prophet's ancestors were credulous. . . . It may be admitted that
some of them believed in fortune telling, in warlocks and witches.
. . . To be credulous in such things was to be normal people" (B.
H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of the Church, vol. 1,
Fayette Lapham, who spoke with the Smiths at length to find out
firsthand about Mormonism, said, "This Joseph Smith, Senior, we
soon learned, from his own lips, was a firm believer in witchcraft
and other supernatural things; and had brought up his family in the
same belief" (Historical Magazine, 7 May 1870, p. 306).
Joshua Stafford, a neighbor of the Smith family, noted that
their money digging started no later than about 1820, when Joe
Smith, Jr., was about fifteen years old:
"[I] became acquainted with the family of Joseph Smith, Sen.
about the year 1819 or 20. They then were laboring people, in low
circumstances. A short time after this, they commenced digging for
hidden treasures . . . and told marvellous stories about ghosts,
hob-goblins, caverns, and various other mysterious matters" (H.
Michael Marquardt & Wesley P. Walters, Inventing
Mormonism, Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1994, p. 64).
Orsamus Turner said, "Legends of hidden treasure had long
designated Mormon Hill as the repository. Old Joseph Had dug there
and young Joseph . . . had accompanied his father in the midnight
delvings, and incantation of the spirits that guarded it"
(Littells Living Age, 30, July-Sept. 1851, p. 429).
In an affidavit, Henry Harris affirmed Joe Smith's money digging
and fortune telling:
"I, Henry Harris, do state that I became acquainted with the
family of Joseph Smith, Sen. about the year 1820, in the town of
Manchester, N. York. They were a family that labored very littlethe chief they did, was to dig for money. Joseph Smith, Jr. the
pretended Prophet, used to pretend to tell fortunes; he had a stone
which he used to put in his hat, by means of which he professed to
tell people's fortunes" (Rodger Anderson, Joseph Smith's New
York Reputation Reexamined, Salt Lake City, Signature Books,
1990, p. 131).
Willard Chase, a neighbor who had employed Joe and Alvin Smith
to help dig a well, confirmed money digging by the Smith family in
1820, "I became acquainted with the Smith family . . . in the year
1820. At that time they were engaged in the money digging business"
(Eber D. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, Painesville, OH, 1834, p.
Even historians friendly to the Mormon "church" have portrayed
Joe Smith's involvement with treasure-digging as extensive. These
historians include Howard J. Booth, Wayne Ham, Marvin Hill, Jan
Shipps, Donna Hill, Richard P. Howard, James B. Allen and Glen M.
Leonard (D. Michael Quinn, Early Mormonism and the Magic World
View, Signature Books, Salt Lake City, 1998, p. 44). In
official Mormon documents, Joe Smith admitted to being a money
digger (Documentary History of the Church, vol. 3, p. 29;
vol. 1, p. 17; Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.
120; Elders' Journal, vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 28-29).
For instance, when asked if he was ever a "money digger," Joe
Smith responded: "Yes, but it was never a very profitable job for
him, as he only got fourteen dollars a month for it." (Joseph
Smith, Documentary History of the Church, Vol. 3, p.
Among the Palmyra neighbors who confirmed that Joe Smith used
his brown peepstone in treasure digging were Willard Chase, William
Stafford, Joseph Capron, Martin Harris, Abel Chase, Lorenzo
Saunders, William Riley Hine and Isaac Butts (Quinn, pp. 44, 392n).
This brown peepstone is still retained in the walk-in vault of the
LDS presidency's office, together with at least one other of
Smith's peepstones (Ibid., p. 243).
The scryer's stone Smith used in pretending to see buried
treasure, he also used for both finding and translating the pretend
golden plates. LDS author Richard S. Van Wagoner wrote about this
"This stone, still retained by the First Presidency of the LDS
Church, was the vehicle through which the golden plates were
discovered and the medium through which their interpretation came"
(Richard S. Van Wagoner, Sidney Rigdon: A Portrait of Religious
Excess, Signature Books, SLC, 1994, p. 57).
Joe Smith eloped with Isaac Hale's daughter and returned to the
Hale household to sponge off Mr. Hale. Peter Ingersoll, who was
helping Smith move furniture, observed a touching scene between
Isaac Hale and Smith:
"His father-in-law (Mr. Hale) addressed Joseph, in a flood of
tears: 'You have stolen my daughter and married her. I had much
rather have followed her to her grave. You spend your time in
digging for moneypretend to see in a stone, and thus try to
deceive people.' Joseph wept, and acknowledged he could not see in
a stone now, nor never could; and that his former pretensions in
that respect, were all false. He then promised to give up his old
habits of digging for money and looking into stones. Mr. Hale told
Joseph, if he would move to Pennsylvania and work for a living, he
would assist him in getting into business. Joseph acceded to this
proposition" (Howe, pp. 234-235).
Instead of finding honest work as he had promised Isaac Hale and
Justice Albert Neely, Smith returned to his peepstone and pretended
to find "golden plates." On May 1, 1834, Joe Smith's father-in-law
published an affidavit
on the matter in the Susquehanna Register. In the affidavit,
Isaac Hale summed up the Book of Mormon. Sometimes one's
relatives can say it best:
"I conscientiously believe from the facts I have detailed, and
from many other circumstances, which I do not deem it necessary to
relate, that the whole 'Book of Mormon' (so called) is a silly
fabrication of falsehood and wickedness, got up for speculation,
and with a design to dupe the credulous and unwaryand in order
that its fabricators may live upon the spoils of those who swallow
the deception. ISAAC HALE." (Isaac Hale affidavit, Susquehanna
Register, Montrose, PA, May 1, 1834).
The last writings of B. H. Roberts, who was a member of the
Mormon "church's" First Council of the Seventy, also paint the
Book of Mormon as a scam. Towards the end of his life Roberts
became disillusioned with Mormonism. Regarded by Mormons as a top
scholar, Robert's six-volume Comprehensive History of the
Church is still used today. Roberts concluded that the
"Nephites" and other protagonists in the Book of Mormon were
most likely not actual historical personages, but were the
inventions of Joe Smith's mind, and were from plagiarized sources
(B. H. Roberts, Studies of the Book of Mormon, University of
Illinois Press, 1985, p. 250, 271).
Even Joe Smith's own mother acknowledged that he was a talented
storyteller, fully capable of inventing a detailed history of a
make-believe civilization. She wrote:
"During our evening conversations, Joseph would occasionally
give us some of the most amusing recitals that could be imagined.
He would describe the ancient inhabitants of this continent, their
dress, mode of traveling, and their animals upon which they rode;
their cities, their buildings, with every particular; their mode of
warfare; and also their religious worship. This he would do with as
much ease, seemingly as if he had spend his whole life with them."
(Lucy Mack Smith, History of Joseph Smith by his Mother,
1954 ed., p. 83).
Some of the first people to hear of Joe Smith's golden plates
story remember Smith's telling of a bloody Spaniard ghost who
guarded the plates (Marquardt and Walters, pp. 92, 94). After
Fayette Lapham visited the Smith family with a friend in 1830, he
reported Smith's dream of a blood-spurting ghost who guarded the
plates. The tale was similar to the pirates' tales Joe Smith and
his family relished:
"He [Joseph] then told his father that, in his dream, a very
large and tall man appeared to him, dressed in an ancient suit of
clothes, and the clothes were bloody. And the man said to him that
there was a valuable treasure, buried many years since, and not far
from that place; and that he had now arrived for it to be brought
to light, for the benefit of the world at large; and, if he would
strictly follow his directions, he would direct him to the place
where it was deposited, in such a manner that he could obtain it.
He then said to him, that he would have to get a certain coverlid,
which he described, and an old-fashioned suit of clothes, of the
same color, and a napkin to put the treasure in . . . when he had
obtained it, he must not lay it down until he placed it in the
napkin. . . ." (Historical Magazine 7, May 1870,
Smith's early story of the plates, as related by those who heard
it, had more in common with Halloween tales of hobgoblins and blood
spurting ghosts than it did with anything "holy" or "Godly." When
Smith first told the story, he had not learned to smooth out the
rough edges. Hiel and Joseph Lewis, cousins of Smith's wife,
recalled Smith's learning of the plates from a man who had his
"throat cut from ear to ear, and the blood streaming down":
"He [Joe Smith] said that by a dream he was informed that at
such a place in a certain hill, in an iron box, were some gold
plates with curious engravings, which he must get and translate,
and write a book; that the plates were to be kept concealed from
every human being for a certain time, some two or three years; that
he went to the place and dug till he came to the stone that covered
the box, when he was knocked down; that he again attempted to
remove the stone, and was again knocked down; this attempt was made
the third time, and the third time he was knocked down. "Then he
exclaimed, "Why can't I get it?" or words to that effect; and then
he saw a man standing over the spot, which to him appeared like a
Spaniard, having a long beard coming down over his breast to about
here, (Smith putting his hand to the pit of his stomach) with his
(the ghost's) throat cut from ear to ear, and the blood streaming
down, who told him that he could not get it alone; that another
person whom he, Smith, would know at first sight, must come with
him, and then he could get it. And when Smith saw Miss Emma Hale,
he knew that she was the person, and that after they were married,
she went with him to near the place, and stood with her back toward
him, while he dug up the box, which he rolled up in his frock"
(Amboy Journal, Amboy, Illinois, 24, 30 Apr. 1879).
Joe Smith occasionally did some work for the Saunders family.
When he told his tale to Benjamin Saunders, though, the guardian of
the plates was an amphibian who transformed into a man:
"I heard Joe tell my Mother and Sister how he procured the
plates. He said he was directed by an angel where it was. He went
in the night to get the plates. When he took the plates there was
something down near the box that looked some like a toad that rose
up into a man which forbid him to take the plates. . . . He told
his story just as earnestly as any one could. He seemed to believe
all he said" (Benjamin Saunders interview, Sept. 1884, 30, fd 44,
box 2, pp. 22-23, "Miscellany 1795-1948," RLDS
In an 1833 affidavit, Willard Chase corroborated the appearance
of the amphibian: "He [Joe Smith] saw in the box something like a
toad, which soon assumed the appearance of a man, and struck him on
the side of his head" (Howe, p. 242).
In books on the occult, the toad is associated with Satanism,
witchcraft and sorcery (Henry Agrippa, Three Books of Occult
Philosophy, London, Gregory, 1635, p. 472; Barrett,
Smith also became confused about whether he was visited by
Moroni or Nephi. From 1835 to 1838 the Mormon leaders taught that
"Moroni" visited Smith (Jerald and Sandra Tanner, Mormonism:
Shadow or Reality?, Salt Lake City: Utah Lighthouse Ministry,
1987, p. 137).
In 1842, though, when Joe Smith published his history in the
Times and Seasons, he had changed his mind. He had decided that
the messenger was "Nephi" instead of "Moroni." The first edition of
the Pearl of Great Price also gave the messenger's name as
"He called me by name, and said unto me that he was a messenger
sent from the presence of God to me, and that his name was Nephi."
(Joseph Smith, Times and Seasons, vol. 3, April 15, 1842, p.
753; Joseph Smith, Pearl of Great Price, Liverpool, Eng., F.
D. Richards, 1851, p. 41).
Later, when Mormon officials became embarrassed by Smith's
discrepancy, they changed both the History of the Church and
the Pearl of Great Price to read "Moroni." (Jerald and
Sandra Tanner, Mormonism, Magic and Masonry, 2nd ed., Utah
Lighthouse Ministry, Salt Lake City, 1988, p. 40).
As neighbor Parley Chase noted about Smith's golden plates
story, "In regard to their Gold Bible speculation, they scarcely
ever told two stories alike" (Howe, p. 248).
Just as he told inconsistent accounts of Moroni, he also told
conflicting accounts of his first meeting with "God" and "Jesus."
Former BYU history professor D. Michael Quinn notes that Joe
Smith's early narratives of the first vision were less than
satisfying: "'the 16th year of my age,' 'I was about 14 years old,'
and 'my fifteenth year.' Smith even required Cowdery to change his
age at the first vision from '15th year' to '17th' in the first
published history" (Quinn, p. 141).
In 1977, Richard P. Howard, historian for the RLDS Church,
acknowledged Smith's lack of credibility with the First Vision:
"One thing does seem certain: we cannot be certain about the
First Vision. We cannot know that it occurred or, if it occurred,
when or what Joseph experienced. . . . Neither Joseph Smith nor any
other Latter Day Saint analyst has satisfactorily accounted for the
discrepancies among the accounts on the point of the number and
identity of the personage (s) appearing to him in the First Vision"
("An Analysis of Six Contemporary Accounts Touching Joseph Smith's
First Vision," Restoration Studies I: Sesquicentennial Edition, p.
The Book of Mormon and the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints were offshoots and natural progressions of
Smith's involvement with peepstones, money digging, Freemasonry,
astrology, fortune telling, water witching, a Jupiter talisman,
magic parchments, a ceremonial dagger, talking toads, magic circles
of black lamb's and black dog's blood, hemlock juice, necromancy,
blood spurting ghosts, wizardry, demonic possession, etc. The demon
Moroni has its antecedent in occult books about ghosts who were
thought to guard buried treasure. To Joe Smith, these enchantments
needed to be broken. Appeasement through blood sacrifice to Satan
was Joe Smith's method of choice to break the enchantment and to
get at the treasure.
Smith's father influenced this belief. The newspaper Palmyra
Reflector noted that Joe Smith's father "evinced a firm belief
in the existence of hidden treasure, and that this section of
country abounded in them.He also revived, or in other words
propagated the vulgar, yet popular belief that these treasures were
held in charge of some EVIL spirit, which was supposed to be either
the Devil himself, or some one of his most trusty favorites"
(Palmyra Reflector, as cited in A Witness For Christ in
America, vol. 2, pp. 68-69).
William Stafford, who lived about a mile and a half from the
Smiths, corroborated Joe Smith Jr.'s blood sacrifices to Satan:
"Old Joseph and one of the boys came to me one day, and said
that Joseph Jr. had discovered some very remarkable and valuable
treasures, which could be procured only in one way. That way, was
as follows: - That a black sheep should be taken to the ground
where the treasures were concealed - that after cutting its throat,
it should be led around in a circle while bleeding. This being
done, the wrath of the evil spirit would be appeased: the treasures
could then be obtained, and my share of them was to be four fold.
To gratify my curiosity, I let them have a large fat sheep. They
afterwards informed me, that the sheep was killed pursuant to
commandment; but as there was some mistake in the process, it did
not have the desired effect. This, I believe, is the only time they
ever made money-digging a profitable business" (Howe, pp. 238-239;
also reproduced in Dan Vogel, ed., Early Mormon Documents,
Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 1996, vol. 2, pp. 59-61).
BYU Professor M. Wilford Poulson noted Wallace Miner's saying,
"I once asked Stafford if Smith did steal a sheep from him. He said
no, not exactly. He said, he did miss a black sheep, but soon
Joseph came and admitted he took it for sacrifice but he was
willing to work for it. He made wooden sap buckets to fully pay for
it" (Brigham Young University Studies, Spring 1970, p.
C. R. Stafford testified about the same incident: "Jo Smith, the
prophet, told my uncle, William Stafford, he wanted a fat, black
sheep. He said he wanted to cut its throat and make it walk in a
circle three times around and it would prevent a pot of money from
leaving" (Naked Truths About Mormonism, January 1888, page
3; also in Vogel, vol. 2, p. 197)
To the right is a graphic of the
actual dagger Joe Smith used for animal sacrifices to Satan. The
Smith family dagger was listed in the inventory of Hyrum Smith's
"relics." An authorized biography of Hyrum Smith described the
artifact as "Dagger, Masonic  ten inch, stainless steelwooden
handleMasonic symbols on blade" (Pearson Corbett, Hyrum Smith,
Patriarch, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1963, p. 453). Slides of the dagger were screened at the Sunstone Theological Symposium,
August 24, 1985, Salt Lake City, Utah. Symbols on the blade are not "Masonic," but they are used in
ceremonial magic. One side of the blade has the seal of Mars. The other side of the blade has a
symbol for the "Intelligence of Mars," the zodiac sign for Scorpio
and the Hebrew letters for "Adonai." Occult books recommend the
inscription of "Adonai" for those seeking a treasure-trove
(Agrippa, Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy, 1655, p. 81;
Ebenezer Sibly, New and Complete Illustration of the Occult
Sciences, illustration opposite p. 1103; Francis Barrett,
Magus, 1801, II:110). These magical signs were inscribed
according to instructions for inscribing occult symbols (Henry
Agrippa, Three Books of Occult Philosophy, London: Gregory
Moule, 1651, p. 245; Barrett, Magus, I: illustrations
opposite pp. 143, 174; Melton, Encyclopedia of Occultism &
Parapsychology, vol. 2, p. 1179). Mars is the governing planet
of Smith Sr.'s birth year (1771).
Dr. William D. Purple, a respected Bainbridge physician and a
personal friend of Justice Neely, took notes at Joe Smith's 1826
court trial. Justice Albert Neely listed the case as "Joseph Smith
The Glass lookerMarch 20, 1826." Some of Dr. Purple's
recollections of the trial were printed in the Chenango
Union. In a snippet from that article, one notes that Smith
lured Josiah Stowell into sacrificing a lamb to an "evil spirit."
During the blood sacrifice to an evil spirit, Smith sprinkled the
lamb's blood to make a magic circle, just as he had done with the
black lamb from William Stafford's flock.
Dr. Purple wrote,
"In this emergency the fruitful mind of Smith was called on to
devise a way to obtain the prize. Mr. Stowell went to his flock and
selected a fine vigorous lamb, and resolved to sacrifice it to the
demon spirit who guarded the coveted treasure. Shortly after the
venerable Deacon might be seen on his knees at prayer near the pits
while Smith, with a lantern in one hand to dispel the midnight
darkness, might be seen making a circuit around the pits sprinkling
the flowing blood from the lamb upon the ground, as a propitiation
to the spirit that thwarted them" (William D. Purple, "Joseph Smith
the Originator of Mormonism: Historical Reminiscences of the town
of Afton," Chenango Union, Norwich, NY, May 2, 1877, p.
Hiel Lewis affirmed that Smith translated the Book of
Mormon by means of the same enchanting spirit that directed
Smith to make dog sacrifices. Dr. Quinn wrote, "A cousin of Smith's
wife Emma reported that Smith 'translated the book of Mormon by
means of the same peep stone, and under the same inspiration that
directed his enchantments and dog sacrifices; it was all by the
same spirit' (H. Lewis 1879)" (Quinn, 1987 edition, p. 144).
When Joe Smith started his "church" in 1830, the local Palmyra
newspaper Reflector ran an article making fun of the Book
of Mormon and Joe Smith's animal sacrifices (Dogberry,
pseud. [Abner Cole] "Book of Pukei," The Reflector,
Palmyra, NY, June 12, 1830, p. 36).
Early Mormon convert Emily M. Austin recalled Joe Smith's urging
animal sacrifice, ". . . in the time of their digging for money and
not finding it attainable, Joseph Smith told them there was a charm
on the pots of money, and if some animal was killed and the blood
sprinkled around the place, then they could get it. So they killed
a dog and tried this method of obtaining the precious metal. . . .
Alas! how vivid was the expectation when the blood of poor Tray was
used to take off the charm, and after all to find their mistake . .
. and now they were obliged to give up in despair (Mormonism; or
Life Among the Mormons, 1882; Wesley P. Walters, "Joseph
Smith's Bainbridge, N.Y., Court Trials" Westminster Theological
Journal, 1974, part 2, p. 125).
Justice Joel King Noble, who tried Smith in an 1830 trail in
Colesville, N.Y., related in a letter that when Joe Smith and
others were digging "for a Chest of money," they acquired a black
dog and offered it as "a sacrafise [blo]od Sprinkled prayer made at
the time (no money obtained) the above Sworn to on trial. . . ."
(Letter of Justice Noble, dated March 8, 1842, photographically
reproduced in Walters, "Joseph Smith's Bainbridge, N.Y., Court
Trials," p. 134).
Smith also urged human sacrifice to Satan. In 1880,
Lippincott's Magazine noted:
"On a wilderness-hillnow a part of Jacob J. Skinner's
farmhis peek-stone discovered a ton of silver bars which had been
buried by weary Spaniards as they trudged up the Susquehanna. An
expedition for their recovery was undertaken as soon as Smith could
muster enough followers to do the work. . . . The third hole had
been sunk fifteen out of the necessary twenty feet when the
treasure once more jumped to the other side of the big hole. Then
the prophet had a vision: the blood of a black sheep must be shed
and sprinkled around the diggings. Black sheep were scarce, and
while they waited for one the faithful obtained their needed rest.
At length, no sheep appearing, Joe Said that a black dog might
answer. A dog, therefore, was killed, and the blood was sprinkled
on the ground. After that the silver never went far away. Still, it
waltzed about the big hole in such a lively manner that frequent
tunneling to effect its capture availed nothing. At the last the
prophet decided that it was of no use to dig unless one of their
number was made a sacrifice. None of the faithful responded to his
call, and thus the magnificent scheme was abandoned. Oliver Harper,
one of the diggers who furnished the money, was soon afterward
murdered. The prophet thought this might answer for a sacrifice: he
again rallied the diggers, but the charm remained stubborn and
would not reveal the silver" (Lippincott's Magazine, 1880,
History of Susquehanna County notes Joe Smith's saying
that "one of the company should die before the enchantment could be
broken" (Emily C. Blackman, History of Susquehanna County,
1873, p. 580).
On April 23, 1880, the Salt Lake Tribune published a
document showing Joe Smith's involvement with Oliver Harper's widow
in an agreement about money digging shares (Daily Tribune,
Salt Lake City, April 23, 1880).
The History of Susquehanna County notes that "Oliver
Harper was murdered by Jason Treadwell. . . ." (Blackman, p
Treadwell was part of Smith's money digging group (Gerald and
Sandra Tanner, Mormonism, Magic and Masonry, Utah Lighthouse
Ministry, Salt Lake City, 1988, p. 35). Treadwell was executed for
the murder on January 13, 1825 (Blackman, p. 325).
According to Joseph Capron, Joe Smith claimed to see "infernal
spirits" in his peepstone (Howe, p. 259). Smith was mesmerized by
evil spirits. Spellbound, he could watch them in rapt absorption
for hours. William Stafford's affidavit notes Smith's protracted
enthrallment with evil spirits:
"He returned and said that Joseph had remained all the time in
the house looking it the stone and watching the movements of the
evil spirits. . . ." [Given under oath before Judge Th. P. Baldwin,
Dec., 1833] (Charles A. Shook, True Origin of the Book of
Mormon, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1914, pp. 28-31)
Dr. William D. Purple recorded the process of Joe Smith's
becoming demon possessed. The LDS doctrine of Eternal Progression,
of men becoming gods, originated when Smith deluded himself and
lifted up his heart with feelings of ecstasy and godhood:
"With some labor and exertion he found the stone, carried it to
the creek, washed and wiped it dry, sat down on the bank, placed it
in his hat, and discovered that time, place and distance were
annihilated; that all intervening obstacles were removed, and that
he possessed one of the attributes of Deity, an All-Seeing-Eye."
(Dr. William D. Purple, Chenango Union, Norwich, NY, May 3,
God said that before Him there was no God formed, and that after Him there will be none (Isaiah 43:10). When Lucifer said in his heart that he would ascend above the heights of the clouds and would make himself like the Most-High, God said that he would be thrust down to Sheol (Isaiah 14:13-15). Mormons have embraced the very sin that caused Lucifer’s name change to Satan and that sealed his future in hell.
Since some satanic rites require blackness, accordingly the
demon Moroni required Joe Smith to wear black clothing at their
rendezvous. Smith Sr. told neighbor Willard Chase that Joe Smith
Jr. was required to wear "black clothes" and to arrive on a "black
horse" (Quinn, 1998 edition, p. 165). Lorenzo Saunders recalled
that blackness was also a requirement for the rendezvous (Ibid., p.
65). In an interview with Fayette Lapham, Joe Smith Sr. referred to
a requirement of wearing clothing of the same color (Vogel,
According to Lucy Mack Smith, Dr. Gain Robinson was "an old
friend" of the Smith family (Ibid., 1:316). He owned a store in
Palmyra, and he recorded purchases made by the Smiths from 1825
until 1829. The first time that any one of the Smiths purchased
lampblack from his store was September 18, 1827, only four days
before Joe Smith's visit with the demon Moroni. (Lampblack was
almost pure carbon. It was made from soot, and it was used to paint
Dr. Robinson's accounting entry for this particular purchase of
lampblack was abbreviated "L.Blk," and Dr. Robinson noted that
Smith Sr. bought the lampblack for his son Joe Smith Jr. (Gain
Robinson Store day book 1827-29, 301 King's Daughters' Library;
Quinn, p. 166). Black is mentioned as a requirement in Reginald
Scot's Discovery of Witchcraft and Discourse Concerning
Devils and Spirits (pp. 215, 218-20, 226) and Ebenezer Sibly's
New and Complete Illustration of the Occult Sciences (pp.
1102, 1104). Smearing lampblack on the palms was practiced in
divinatory scrying (Northcote Thomas, Crystal Gazing: Its
History and Practice, London, Alexander Moring, 1905, pp. 32,
Smith prepared for the meeting about midnight September 21,
1827, and he took Emma (Quinn, p. 166). Joe Smith's sister said
that Joe was commanded to go at 2 a.m., September 22, 1827
(Katharine Smith Salisbury letter to "Dear Sisters," Vogel, I:521).
For the 1823 meeting, Mormon scribe Oliver Cowdery wrote that Smith
began praying to commune with "some kind of messenger" about
"eleven or twelve" (Cowdery to Phelps, "Letter IV," 78-79; Jessee
Papers of Joseph Smith, 1:50-51).
Occult tradition specifies that spirit conjurations should begin
at 11 o'clock at night. Joe Smith established the Moroni visit of
September 21, 1923 as "after I had retired to my bed for the
night." (Joseph Smith History, Pearl of Great Price, verse
Magic instructions also teach that if nothing results, the same
experiment must be renewed in the following years. Smith wrote,
"[Moroni] told me that I should come to that place precisely in
one year from that time, and that he would there meet with me, and
that I should continue to do so until the time should come for
obtaining the plates." (Ibid., verse 53)
All of Smith's yearly meetings with Moroni were at night, and
all followed the new moon and autumnal equinox at the major
witchcraft festival of Harvest Home (Janet ~ Stewart Farrar,
Eight Sabbats for Witches, Robert Hale, London, 1981, pp. 26,
116). These were auspicious conditions for occultic treasure
digging and the conjuration of demons. Dr. Quinn cites a
comprehensive study of the magic arts, and he notes that all three
distinctive forms of ritual magic were extant in Smith's meetings
with Moroni: necromancy, transformation, and theurgy (Quinn, 1987
ed., p. 133). Smith's encounter with the demon Moroni was a textbook case of sorcery.
Mormons later rewrote Smith's account and deleted the
blood-spurting Spaniard ghost, the transforming amphibian, the
animal sacrifices to evil spirits and other clear giveaways to the
true nature of Mormonismthe Halloween religion as I call it.
Before Mormons rewrote the story, Moroni was an apparition who had
his throat cut ear-to-ear, blood streaming down his clothing, a
hobgoblin who was murdered to guard treasure as an enchantment.
Smith's story was similar to the kind of tale he told his money
digging associates. The milieu and genre were identical to that of
his money digging tales. The requirements to arrive at a new moon,
during an autumnal equinox, to wear black clothing, to smear his
hands with lampblack, to bring a specific person, etc., were taken
from specific books on the occult, as Dr. Quinn's research found.
The Book of Mormon identifies Moroni as an ancient and
righteous Nephite who is now dead. What does the Bible tell us
about communicating with dead people? Necromancy, or communication
with the dead, is strictly forbidden (Deut. 18:9-12). Those who
communicate with the dead are an abomination unto the Lord (Deut.
Book of Mormon witness Oliver Cowdery corroborated that
when Joe Smith first went to the Manchester hill he "beheld the
prince of darkness, surrounded by his innumerable trains of
associates" (Oliver Cowdery letter to W. W. Phelps, LDS
Messenger and Advocate, vol. 2, October 1835, p. 198).
Fayette Lapham recalled Smith's telling of devils who screeched,
screamed and wounded Smith:
" . . . Joseph took the pillow-case and started for the rock.
Upon passing a fence, a host of devils began to screech and to
scream, and made all sorts of hideous yells. . . . Joseph then
turned the rock back, took the article in the pillow-case, and
returned to the wagon; the devils, with more hideous yells than
before, followed him to the fence; as he was getting over the
fence, one of the devils struck him a blow on his side, where a
black and blue spot remained three or four days. . . ."
(Historical Magazine, 7 May 1870, p. 306).
The Ancients Book of Magic (p. 15) notes that demons,
during an encounter with a magician, can make shocking
"Thus attired, and standing within the charmed circle, the
magician repeats the awful formot exorcism; and presently, the
internal spirits make strange and frightful noises, howlings,
tremblings, flashes, and most dreadful shrieks and yells, as the
forerunner becomes visible."